Americans have steadily moved away from architecture that actively engages with regional climate conditions. Instead, we have favored a built environment that largely isolates us from the weather, places where temperature, light, and humidity are held constant. Trends in fashion have followed a similar trajectory. Increasingly, the clothes we wear no longer need to make sense as articles of protection, since we are able to avoid prolonged exposure to the elements.

Visitors are invited to question comfort by experiencing fabric as shelter that responds to the elements visibly and dynamically. A team of local architects, makers, and fashion/apparel designers, create a spatial structure in conjunction with wearable articles that illustrate a spectrum of protection while celebrating the sublime climate of the Pacific Northwest.

In advance of the Thursday, April 19 event, we connected with Bora, who led the development of the overall concept, and designed the structural shelter.

DWP: Tell us a little more about what attendees should expect when visiting the fabric structure and wearables. Will there be a formal panel or discussion?

Bora: Attendees can expect an informal environment where they can explore and examine the fabric structure and wearables, try some of the wearable pieces on, and socialize with other attendees over drinks and snacks.

There will not be a formal panel or discussion, but there will be conversation prompts to encourage attendees to question and reflect on the same issues that framed our design efforts. We want people to come and be stimulated by the structure and artifacts we've created, gain inspiration for their own creative processes, and make interdisciplinary connections.

Representatives from Bora, Creative Capital Design, and several of our supporting collaborators will be present to join in these conversations, and answer questions about the design and fabrication process, so attendees can understand how we made everything and what we learned along the way.

The event will be held in tandem with PICA's open house, so attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about the great work this organization does to foster creativity and the arts in Portland.

DWP: With some many wonderful creatives in the area, how did Bora select which ones to work with?

Bora: The process was very organic. Everything was driven by the core motivations Bora had for this project from the beginning: address themes relevant to our social and environmental context, explore new materials, expand our making and fabrication capabilities, and connect with experts in the community.

We knew we were interested in working with fabric for a substantial project, and I happened to attend a brand strategy workshop put on by Britta and Rebecca at Creative Capital Design. Without knowing where it would lead, I asked if they'd be interested in talking with Bora's team about this fabric project idea we had been toying with for DWP.

From there, the concept coalesced, and CCD connected us with the Industrial Fabric Association International as a material resource, which in turn led us to Rainier Industries in Seattle. Visiting the Winter Light Festival this year brought Guildworks onto our radar, and we've worked with Good Mod in the past, so bringing them on as fabrication partners was an easy call. Once we started reaching out to people, everyone we talked to was interested in participating, and had new suggestions for resources and partners.

Holding the event at PICA also made sense, since Bora has a long history of partnering with them on temporary structures and venues for their annual Time Based Art festival. Our relationship goes back more than a decade, so in a way, it's like coming full circle to have PICA provide the venue for a Bora installation!

DWP: How does current structural design reflect the status of Portland as a city? How is the structure you created inspired by the city?

Bora: Portland is a great example of a city with roots proudly planted in local industry and identity, but with arms outstretched to the rapidly-changing world. Currently, we are faced with the need to strike a balance between supporting local community and economy, recognize historical successes and failures, and embrace a progressive approach to the future.

As Portland grows, how do we put our values into practice? How do we accommodate rapid population growth and urban densification equitably? How do we preserve our open and natural spaces, our connection to the agricultural land that nourishes us, the quality of our air and water systems? These issues are all playing out in Portland's urban fabric, especially as we have become internationally synonymous with healthy, comfortable city living.

Through our interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to design, Bora's pavilion reflects Portland's spirit of sharing and community growth, drawing on the skills and talents of our local peers and regional partners alike. Through our advanced design and fabrication techniques, Bora's pavilion is an aspirational representation of what Portland could be, a blend of traditional and cutting-edge, familiar and visionary.

Physically, connection to the elements is crucial, and our entire event is structured around getting people to spend at least a little time outside, thinking about how easy it is to be cut off from the weather when you have that luxury. It's also recognizing that some of our fellow Portlanders face the opposite challenge, and that connection and comfort are highly relative experiences.

Lastly, and importantly, this project is meant to pose more questions than answers. It's looking at Portland saying, here are all these big, important, necessary conversations. Finding solutions is going to take time, collaboration, and a willingness to step outside our comfort zones by challenging the assumptions that come most readily based on our backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Event Details

Venue: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Address: 15 NE Hancock St
Date: Thursday, April 19, 4:00–8:00pm
Organizer: Bora
Cost: Free

Please visit the event page to register.